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Anhedonia, the opposite of hedonism.

For those journeying through depression or grief, anhedonia is a pleasure thief. The wild paradox is that in slowing down to the pace of a single moment, however painful, we can access PRESENCE. From there, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to pleasure.

 

When I met Joshua, he was in the midst of the darkest depression I’d seen. He rarely left his couch and muddled through the chores of daily living. He had been depressed for decades and had tried multiple treatment approaches.

 

After getting to the right doctor for the right medication, the depression finally had a floor to it. We could begin to make progress. First up was to address the incessant suicidal ideation. Joshua learned to mitigate and finally put an end to this and other self-destructive mental chatter.

 

He got his head enough out of the weeds to realize he no longer had any sense of pleasure. Imagine losing your sense of taste or smell … or pleasure!

 

Joshua began kindling pleasure by putting his attention on three moments everyday that had a hint of pleasure and writing them down. The intention here is not to direct awareness to the popular practice of a gratitude journal, but to direct awareness to pleasure.

 

The following week he told me how shocked he was that it was a real challenge to find three moments where he experienced pleasure. However, as the week went on, it got easier. We explored the good and bad of allowing pleasure with end of words and made space for qualities that could reveal pleasure.

 

Next up, Joshua and I talked about the qualities of people who easily experience pleasure —

  • LIghthearted
  • Patient
  • Open-minded
  • Present-focused
  • Curious

 

We used a creative application of an integration process to help Joshua access these qualities with greater ease. Then we discussed a plan to go on a personal scavenger hunt everyday, to discover pleasure using his five senses.

 

Joshua is surprised that his senses feel like they are slowing waking up and he is kindling pleasure in his daily experience.

 

Anhedonia can be so sticky and challenging. It robs us of meaning and pleasure. More importantly, it robs us of our most valuable commodity, time.

 

What are your secrets for untangling from anhedonia?

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